Planning a wedding on a budget, How to keep quality while cutting cost in all the right places.
So your getting married!? Its probably your first time planning a wedding. You might have an idea in your head or a pintrest board of what you envisioning. Or maybe you have no idea where to even start.
Before you read any of this I want you to close your eyes and for 1 min try and imagine your ceremony & your reception. These are the 2 main things you need to get an idea on, everything else can be filled in easily.
-What do you see? -Who is all there? Where are you? What do your surroundings look like? What do you feel like?
Have an idea?! Perfect! Lets get started!
Now if your like 98% of the population your probably don’t have access to unlimited money. So lets start talking the big M word. MONEY.
I have been photographing and helping my couples plan weddings for the last 7 years. I’ve been invilved in hundreds of weddings & I’ve learnt a few things
The top concearns when it comes to any wedding usually includes Cost + Quality.
I’m writing this blog to help all couples plan a wedding of quality, while cutting costs in areas possible. Basically I’m trying to help you decide what ways you could divide your budget properly to get the wedding experience you want!
The top 8 things that will affect how much money you spend on your wedding.
1)THE GUEST LIST
4)THE DRESS + OUFITS
7)THE HAIR + MAKE-UP
While you read through them make a priority list- Most important to least, this will help you make decisions of your own after reading the options and info on each cost on the money list
1) THE GUEST LIST
This is a BIG one, they are your peeps, and you want them all to be there, even if having all of them there means you only get to spend 4 mins with each of them. I get it! But I have to talk about it because this will drastically change the cost and what options you have for your wedding, so think on this one for a while. Its pretty easy to understand that less people, means less food, a smaller venue, more venue options, less rentals, less décor, less COSTS.
So before you do ANYTHING, get your guestlist under control. Depending on your venue & food choices, cost could vary 75$-500$ per guest. So you can see right outta the gate you can save ATON with a smaller guest list.
I have heard numerous times If I have a smaller wedding I wont have a good party. I’m here to tell you first off, a big wedding does not guarantee a good party & secondly that most of the craziest wedding receptions I’ve ever been to had 40-75 guest! When you have a large (100+ guest) wedding, a lot of people tend to be extended family. No one likes to enjoy a wedding day and be home in bed by 9 like the Aunt, Uncle or cousin that you only see every few years at family functions.
Now I understand every family is different, just know this. Your wedding isn’t a family reunion. I love family get togethers, but try your best not to just be footing the bill for the familys next reunion.
I have found that the smaller wedidngs (around 40-75 peeps) create not only a more intimate feeling, but also open the door to one hell of a party.
You see, generally when you’ve cut the guest list down that much, the only people coming are your absoutle closest friends and family. And if they are close with you. Chances are, they know eachother.and people who know eachother arent afraid to let loose together.
So if its the party you want, please dont under estimate the party at a smaller wedding.
I understand family obligation and I know it hurts not to invite EVERYONE. But when it comes to the day of the couples that I’ve seen go through the least amount of stress (both finical and non-finical). Are the ones that got to spend the day with the closest people in their life.
When any of my couples decide to “cut the list” and shrink their wedding, they always feel bad that they couldn’t invite everyone. I suggested sending out cards to anyone you weren’t able to invite. a 3$ card explaining your decision and sending your love, letting them know that you were thinking of them is much more affordable then a $75-$500 obligation invite.
Now all this being said, There are situations and circumstances that make a large wedding unavoidable, or maybe you just really want a big wedding! If thats the case, Then just put it on the top of your priority list, we can cut cost without giving up quailty in other ways.
2) The Venue
OK, you got a guest list figured out?
Now lets talk Venue! this one is a gooder, because it could be on the very top of your priority list, but depending on what you want. It could be one of the most expensive or least costly things on the list!
If your having a large or small wedding…
Option 1) Hire a venue
PROS– You get a gorgeous location that can hold all your people and if you hire a quality one you can save a ton in rentals & décor. If you are looking for ways to cut work, THIS is it! Wedding venues have everything ready for you to use, alot come with table clothes, lights, and some even include set up and take down in your package
CONS-Big money-Hiring a large wedding venue can run anywhere from 5000-12000 for the venue- That normally only includes the venue itself, the table and chairs, and some décor. That most likely doesn’t include your food or entertainment. Tread with caution. READ THE FINE PRINT are you able to do your own bar? because you can actually make some money back from doing your own bar. Do you have to hire their cater? Because some caters connected with venues can be ridiculously costly (I’m talking 200+ a plate expensive). What are the hidden costs? Is there anything NOT included in their package?
If your wanting a large wedding and you want to put hiring a wedding venue on the top of your priority list, but you still want to keep the cost down, be prepared to put something large, like food, the dress or photography towards the bottom of your list.
Option 2) DIY-Wedding Venue
SO many ways to do this! You can save big here if your willing to do some work! If you have a location/property such as a friend or family members land, you can easily do a tent wedding (rent multiple tents) not just one big one, this will cut down the cost. I have also seen an amazing set up made from 3 large Costco tents (purchased for less then the rental) set-up in a U shape. Placing the dance floor in the middle of the tents outside, which was AMAZING.
If your willing to clean out the family barn or Quonset that can be STUNNING & the best part… It’s usually FREE.
PROS- DIY Wedding venues are the most cost effective, if your willing to do the work. If your planning on renting everything & doing a lot of décor. You might just add up a tab just as high as hiring a wedding venue, so be aware of the little things. They add up!
CONS-To stick to your guns and do all the work yourself is ALOT OF WORK, If you have 1.5-2 years to plan your wedding, the work can be spread nicely and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of rental costs-The tents, tables, chairs, bathrooms, lighting- booking a couple years in advance or building some of it yourself are good ways to cut costs
But what if you have NO-WHERE to do this beatuiful DIY wedding?
Renting a camp ground or renting an old hall- and setting up a garden or tent wedding right there are both fabulous options
A Tent set up at a Camp Ground DIY
PROS-they are usually already beautiful landscape & you can find them in beautiful areas, even in the mountains. Its also pretty awesome for your guests to be able to pull their trailers there and stay the weekend. A lot have bathroom facilities so you can cut that rental cost down.
CONS-Lack of kitchen- A lot of campground do not have kitchens. so depending on your food situation, this could be an issue. Also like any DIY wedding, they are moer work then just hiring a wedding venue
A Tent set up at a rented old Hall DIY
PROS– you can find small halls all over alberta in the country side that have room for camping and only cost $200-500 for the weekend. The best part is, not only can you use the kitchen in the hall, but you can use the bathrooms, the tables, the chairs, the plates, the utensiles, glasses, coffee machine- ALL OF IT! If you can get the location, the kitchen, 80% of the rentals and a place for your guests to camp all for a couple hundred dollars for the weekend- you WINNING!
CONS- Old halls can be pretty ugly- but the easy solution is getting a hall on a fair size piece of land so you can set up your tent- You will most likely have other rental costs as well- Aside from the tent, you may want nicer chairs then whats at the hall and halls normally don’t have table clothes.
If you are able to cut down your guest list, you open up endless oppurtunities when it comes to Venue/Location.
Where you stay and get ready becomes a unquie experience with a small wedding- booking an airbnb that can host everyone- or close to everyone is now a possiablity, extending your wedding into a weekend away with friends and family.
Ceremony can literally happen ANYWHERE- I’ve hiked to cliffs, lake edges and mountain sides with guests- carrying a few chairs for the older guests or sometimes for everyone. If you have chosen to shrink your list & have a intimate wedding, PLEASE take this oppurtinty to have a unique and beautiful ceremony site! Anywhere you think is beautiful!
Dinner & Party
The Reception also becomes much more flexiable! Have a resturant you love? Ask them about booking the whole place for the night, or staying open for your dance. Alot of resturants and pubs are happy to reserve the entire place for a private event- When It comes to cost, Some have a flat rate of “food/alcohol purchase”- Then your paying for your food/drinks and venue all for one price- (this also all but elimanates décor cost) Also, its an easy option to have your guest pay for their own dinner and pitch in to meet the required payment through a partial open bar. Or vise versa
Small Wedding Pros
Tent and backyard wedding receptions also become more attenable and less work with less guests- a small tent or even a garden party theme wedding works well in a backyard- and with minumal people, theres no need to rent plates, glasses, bathroom facilites, as you can use your own-or borrow nice onces. Tables and chair rental or building costs are also dropped.
One of my favorite ideas is a back woods tent or garden reception. one or two small tents- a few beauifully decorated tables and elegant chairs set up in the middle of no-where. You can usually find provincal or national parks that will allow you to host your tent or garden wedding out in the romote country for a minimul cost
Bottom line is, with small weddings- you can take your ceremony & reception any where you want. The fixings for a small person wedding can be packed into a horse trailer or a rental van and driven anywhere. All you need is a tent (not necessary, but probably a good idea) which can be purchased or rented for anywhere from 200-800. Tables (built or rented), chairs ( that can be used for the ceremony & the reception), table clothes, your minimal décor (because the location IS the décor), lighting, possibly a generator for power if you are off grid, and food(but well talk about that soon!)